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Lamb Korma, Longhand

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Don’t you just love it when dinner exceeds your wildest expectations.

I have only ever owned a tiny mortar and pestle for grinding small amounts of spices but a few months ago I bought one big enough to make curry pastes and pesto.

In 2007, I journeyed across the south of India in a travelling cooking school. We cooked in hotel kitchens, restaurants and private homes. Every kitchen had an electric food processor and spice grinder, but the tutors unanimously preferred to use spices ground by hand on a stone.

I remembered watching the rapid movement of dark hands, back and forth, sprinkling a little water when needed to loosen the paste and make the job easier.

With little physical effort I pounded my spice mix by hand, it wasn’t arduous in the least. I felt a strange sense of satisfaction seeing whole cloves, cinnamon stick, cumin seed and coriander reduced to powder, root ginger reduced to a pulp and grated coconut and almonds ground to a paste.

The mortar and pestle far exceeded the capability of my spice grinder in pulverising the spices.

Once the paste was finished there was little else to do to make this seriously delicious lamb korma. Never again will I use the electric spice grinder.

This recipe was adapted to comply with the FODMAP diet from a recipe of the same name in the “The Food of India” a Murdoch publication

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500g lamb shoulder, in bite sized chunks
500g lamb leg meat, in bite sized chunks
2 tablespoons of natural yoghurt
curry paste:
1 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
5 cardamom pods
6 whole cloves
2cm piece of cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons grated fresh coconut (available from the freezer in Asian markets)
1 teaspoon crushed dried red chilli
5cm piece of root ginger
45g natural almonds
2/3 cup water

2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon garlic oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Mix together the meat and yoghurt and return to the fridge while you prepare the curry paste.
Weigh and measure all the paste ingredients.
In a small pan toast the coriander seeds until fragrant and lightly coloured. Set them aside.
Repeat the process with the cumin seed.
Put the cardamom pods into the mortar first. Break each pod, remove the seeds to the mortar and discard the pods.
Add the toasted seeds, cloves and cinnamon. Pound the spices until powder.
Add the almonds and coconut and crush them thoroughly then add the peeled root ginger and pulverise it too.
Add the water as the mixture becomes a paste to make it easier to grind.
Stir in the chilli.

Warm the garlic oil in a large lidded pan.
Add the curry paste and bring it to the boil, then add the lamb coated yoghurt and tomatoes.
Bring the pan to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, then cook until the meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
Sir the meat frequently and add a little extra water as needed.
The sauce will become very thick.
At the end of the cooking time, season to taste with sea salt and pepper.
As with most braised meat, the curry will taste best if refrigerated overnight.
Serves 4-6

We enjoyed, no, we loved this lamb korma made longhand.
I served it with steamed rice, pappadums, kachumber, gingered green beans and raita.

About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

33 comments on “Lamb Korma, Longhand

  1. Karen
    November 23, 2014

    The aroma while you were using your mortar must have been wonderful. I can just imagine how flavorful your curry was.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 24, 2014

      The aroma coming from the mortar was a heady mix, spicy, aromatic, slightlu pungeant. the curry was d’licious

      Like

  2. Sally
    November 22, 2014

    What an incredible experience you had in all those kitchens. I prefer to grind my spices in a a big mortar and pestle too. This recipe is bookmarked.

    Like

  3. Aneela Mirchandani
    November 22, 2014

    I remember that stone and the rolling grinder thing from my childhood. Once in a while a vendor would come to the house to poke holes in the stone to make it rough again, after it had been worn smooth from usage.
    Cheers for mortars and pestles and some elbow grease!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 23, 2014

      I wondered what happened to grinding stones worn smooth from use, thanks for that tidbit of information Aneela, it’s good to hear from you

      Like

  4. Eha
    November 21, 2014

    Basically ‘go’ for stronger curries but a ‘korma’ is always welcome!!!!! The “fodmap’ as a physician and nutritionist simply is not for me but God bless those who feel they benefit 🙂 ! Next time around most certainly shall try it ‘your way’ . . . a happy and fulfilling weekend ahead I trust 🙂 !

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 21, 2014

      There is no doubt the FODMAP diet has helped keep the IBS in check, my body tells me when I stray! I like strong curries too Eha, but a fragrant korma is always a nice change. You’ll be amazed how much more lively hand pounded curry paste

      Like

      • Eha
        November 21, 2014

        Shall keep in contact!! Very interested as to how others see it! It It will be delightful to see how others find it 🙂 OK – am at the moments delightfully occupied with Dr Mimi Guarneri of the Scripps Institute of San Diego and having huge, huge, huge fun’ wilh all I am catching : ) Eha

        Like

  5. Fae's Twist & Tango
    November 21, 2014

    What a fascinating travelling-cooking-school you’ve experienced. There’s always a reason why they did the way they did thigs. How I would like a spoonful of your lamb-korma. 😛

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 21, 2014

      You are so right Fae, modern tools/labour saving devices are often a compromise, nevertheless, I’m not about to ditch them! Wouldn’t it be great if you could taste test online!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Saskia (1=2)
    November 21, 2014

    I’m so with you RE. the need for a giant mortar and pestle. Mine is tiny too…
    I much prefer hand-grinding to processing (I find everything slips between the blades).
    Your trip across the south of India sounds AMAZING. Great photo!
    The curry looks beautiful, and two different cuts of lamb sounds like a good idea. I love shoulder, but leg meat would add some nice chunks.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 21, 2014

      The mix of lamb shoulder and leg meat was just what I had on hand, but I will continue in future to use this combo, it worked! The large granite mortar and pestle were sub $30 at the Asian equipment shop in Victoria St, made me wonder why I had held out so long…

      Like

  7. tinywhitecottage
    November 21, 2014

    I love this Sandra. I have 3 mortars and they are all wood! Unbelievable I know. I’m going to add a granite mortar to my collection right away. I could never get the results you are speaking of with one of my wooden ones. I use an electric spice grinder and I’m taking your advice about switching. These spices are meant to be had at their best. 🙂 Wonderful post.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 21, 2014

      Good to know you’re still out there Seana, I miss your posts! I’m just loving the stone mortar. I’ve always been pedantic about freshly ground spices, but grinding them in the mortar, rather than a grinder left the flavours much much more lively.

      Like

  8. chef mimi
    November 21, 2014

    Hmmmm how can one not love Indian cuisines?!! But you’re right about stale spices. And the use of purchased curry powders. I would so love to go.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 21, 2014

      India is confronting on so many levels, at the very least, a challenge to our ingrained western values, but she is also an enchantress. I’d return in the blink of an eye.

      Like

  9. StefanGourmet
    November 21, 2014

    Mortar and pestle is also better for making pesto — I need a bigger one though! The lamb dish sounds and looks great.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 21, 2014

      Thanks Stefan, i’m just waiting for the basil to reach a good size before I make a batch in the mortar. I remember your test batch…

      Like

  10. keraoregan
    November 20, 2014

    This looks fabulous! I don’t have very much time in the week, but this might have to be a Sunday dinner dish in future!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 21, 2014

      I understand the time constraints Kera, we all lead such busy lives. I think in the end I spent an extra 10 minutes pounding the spice paste and the difference in flavour was quite noticeable.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. My Kitchen Witch
    November 20, 2014

    What a great workout for the upper arms! I, too, have a small mortar and pestle (lovely heavy cast iron), but have been on the lookout for a larger one to make curry pastes and also pestos. If you have any recommendations on what material (stone?), please let me know. Have serious uleg envy for all of you close to Indonesia where these fantastic mortars are readily available. Your culinary/cooking journey through India must have been fabulous! What a wonderful way to meet interesting cooks, use exotic ingredients, and learn, learn, learn.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 20, 2014

      It was meditative pounding the ingredients for this curry, the difference in flavour was extraordinary. My mortar is granite and while it’s new to me I’m amazed at it’s abrasive quality and would happily recommend granite. India is a country with rich and varied cultural influences reflected in the cuisine, it will always remain my favourite place to visit.

      Like

  12. yummyinsidemytummy
    November 20, 2014

    Not a fan of the Indian cuisine but this looks great!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 20, 2014

      There is a lot of dumbed down Indian food in the western world poor quality food cooked with stale spices. Sadly it gives this fantastic and varied cuisine a bad reputation. Fresh spices, freshly ground really makes a difference

      Like

  13. Francesca
    November 20, 2014

    Ah, and you snuck in another gorgeous Indian pic to make me extra happy. I also prefer the mortar and pestle, both big, small and the flat one from Indonesia- much faster and less fussy. This looks and smells great- yes I can smell it from here. As the gentle Spring rain falls, I feel like curry tonight.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 20, 2014

      Yes, perfect night for curry, high humidity, mild temperature. I can’t believe I waited so long to get a large mortar. Just loving it! Did you carry your home from OS?

      Like

      • Francesca
        November 20, 2014

        Yes, the flat one from Indo. The power of suggestion: I have just banged u a few spices, chillies,garlic and ginger in my mortar. It was crying out to be used. Mr T has picked som kaffir leaves and coriander- looks like it’s going south east asian. I am sending your lamb curry to my son for reference.

        Like

      • Francesca
        November 20, 2014

        BTW, my son is salivating. His girlfriend wants it tonight!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. marymtf
    November 20, 2014

    Lady Redspecs, you’ve done it again. What’s katchumber?

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 20, 2014

      Thanks Mary, it was quite a revelation. Whoops I’ll add a link to the katchumber recipe. It’s just fresh diced raw veg. Perfect with a rich meat curry like this

      Like

  15. cheergerm
    November 20, 2014

    What an amazing experience you had in India. I can almost smell this delicious looking curry. In my energetic pre kidlet 20’s I would grind most of my own spices but now use (good quality, fresh) ground versions mostly. I think I may be asking Santa for a larger mortar and pestle…I wonder if I have been good enough? 😁

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 20, 2014

      I have has three amazing visits to India, just one was food focussed but it was fantastic , I learned so much! I think you’ve earned a large mortar and pestle with all the GF goodies you have baked for Mr Yak

      Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on November 20, 2014 by in FODMAP diet, Food, Gluten Free, Indian Food, Lamb, Main Meals, Spice blends and tagged , , , , , .
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